Derek Mullen found himself in a bad place – for no one’s fault but his own. He had been involved in drugs, been on the streets, and gotten involved in crime. He became homeless and struggled with mental illness, addiction, feelings of defeat, and his own prideful stubbornness. He set out to destroy himself, but God did not have destruction in mind for Derek. God had plans to prosper Derek and plans to give him hope and a future. (Jer 29:11)
Derek got to a point when he felt enough had been enough and submitted his life to God. In 2006 he was released from prison with no place to go. Before being released, Derek had an opportunity to ask for a mentor. He did and was introduced to Pastor Stedford Simms, who came alongside Derek showing him how to live, co-exist, and act like the man he wanted to be. Derek began listening to God and God brought new people into Derek’s life.
Back in the Neland Neighborhood of Grand Rapids, MI, Derek got tired of waiting of someone else come in to the neighborhood and do something. He felt that “inner city folk should do things for themselves.” He saw that people were walking around with no direction, no hope: that those around him were “just surviving” and he wanted to do something about it.
Derek got connected with Partners in Neighborhood Transformation (PiNT) and has become a Community Connector, using Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD). PiNT has given him a foundation to have someone mentor him as he implements strategies. It gives him hope for his neighborhood.
Now, Derek is a participating to better the neighborhood that he used to cause problems in. Though previously Derek thought of his people skills as poor, he now enjoys engaging with neighbors and being an agent of change. Community listening for Derek, has been profitable. Having conversations has allowed Derek to see that people truly do have a concern for their neighborhood.
In the future, Derek looks forward to conducting ABCD in other neighborhoods in Grand Rapids, MI and seeing neighbors moved by their hearts to use their individual gifts and talents. He rejoices that God has enabled him to do this: to give back to the neighborhood and to see hopes and dreams for this community come true.